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Friday, April 27, 2018

Matchbox Labels Of Japan - Part 6

Hello... for whatever reason, I don't have the time today to do the full expose of a subject, and instead offer up the next best thing, a look at some wonderful artwork done for matchbox labeling.

Yes, it's my go to subject when I'm pinched for time, but hopefully you'll like like today's subject matter: people.

I admit it's not as weird as the ones I have subjected upon you previously, but I just think the subject matter is quite bizarre when all the image is conveying is the name of the match maker, where the matches are from, and hence that explains why the artwork has a Japanese feel to it.

If these match label artwork is really for a Japanese audience (it's not), why all the English?

It's merely an expression of art that depicts a more "mysterious" side of Japan that people outside of it in th1880s-1920s would still find intriguing enough to want to pick up.

I love this scene depicting two men in a komai-innu (Korean lion dog) costume at a matsuri (festival). I have a netsuke made of ivory that depicts pretty much the same thing, where if you look through the creature's mouth you can see a tiny part of a face. I suppose this is for the Japanese market, however.
Kindda boring, but the art shows a well-to-do man in a yukata (male kimono) with a regal-looking pet beside him. My first instinct is to say it's a dog. Interesting that the man has very slanted eyes.
Just a simple scene of two young women at hanami (cherry blossom viewing) party. I assume that because the girl seem to be laying food on a table... or the one of the left is for her lady on the right - and five red/pink flowers blow in the air. In the background, we see a lovely waterfall, and two figures in a covered walkway also observing the beauty of the nature scene.
I have no idea just what it is about Japan and monkeys. It's not like monkeys are all over the place... I'm not even sure if I saw one over three years, because most of the Japanese live in cities, towns and villages where nature has been beaten down. The scene here is playful. I love that the monkey sits ATOP the frame of the young girls carrying fruits, as he bucks formal artistic convention trying to interfere with the girl's progress.
I'll be honest... I'm not sure just what the polygon the face is upon is supposed to represent. I'm pretty sure it's one of the Japanese Luck Gods... but what is that background? Is it a fan?
Another Japanese Luck God? Or merely an old man and a crane. The bird is a representation of good fortune.. or happiness... or health... of which the smiling old man seems to possess.
This is an interesting bit of artwork... not only do we see an old-school Japanese baby bottle, but we see the two cute puppies begging to get some milk, too. Awwww... babies and puppies.
This looks like a modern art version (from the 1930s?) of a famous ukiyo-e woodblock print I saw from maybe 100 years present... the colors are wrong (according to my memory), but it sure does look familiar...
What? A nude woman? Gimmee that matchbox! For some this was their Sears catalog selling women's bras... in the days before free internet porn.Obviously it depicts an artist's nude model - hence the paint brushes in the foreground.
A 1920's/1930s matchbox label depicting a classy woman having a cocktail, with a map showing just where you might find her... including the train line (black and white blocks).
Another advertisement from the 1920s or 30s... is it a department story? Probably. Why can't I read Japanese?!Still, while the art looks quite simplistic, it is quite stylish. Look at how the nose is drawn to create facial separation where the woman's face now looks like it could belong to two different women. Plus the colors! That fur around her shoulder's actually has definition!
I'm pretty sure the hairstyle shown here is of the early 1920s... the art style evokes a French/European memory. But what is the most striking feature? Is it the robe? The hair? What's hidden behind the robe? The red lipstick? Or is it the fact that the only facial feature she has are the lips... and a jaw defined by a simple red line. Wow. I can't draw to save your life, so if that need ever arises, I'm sorry.
I'm not an expert in dance, but when I look at this, all I see is a ballet dancer lifting her arms in a graceful, swan-like pose. I have spent much of my 30s watching dancers, but not ones in tutu's.
More matchbox label art depicting an ad for a restaurant - Takeya, as we see the waitress bring your order to your extremely low table. The art style seems late 1930s... judging by the hair... but I'm no expert in that either. The art does show off a very long neck. Some people believe that women with long neck are more "sexy"... the swan-like appearance is meant to convey gracefulness and balance. I just read that somewhere a few years ago. Look at all of the so-called beautiful people of Hollywood, and see if they have a long neck.

This art deco-looking matchbox label art depicts Mt. Fuji on the right, at a time in Japan mean one could probably see the magic mountain from the Tokyo-area Ueno team room called Spider. Why would anyone call their tea room "Spider"... I get the creeps just thinking about that.
Okay... despite the thing in the bottom right corner that looks like the date of 1884, it's not. That's an area code of some sort... or maybe a telephone number. The fashion style and woman's haircut place this scene at around 1923 when The Charleston song was huge. BUT... it's not like you can dance The Charleston with a partner, let alone a giant cat, who seems to have rhythm.... but what is obvious is that western fashion is a huge influence in Japan. I'm still not sure why cat's are.

Andrew Joseph
PS: This still took me 90 minutes to create... so much for quick and easy.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Flying Tigers And The Secret War Against Japan

As luck would have it, yesterday while I was writing up my article on former U.S. president George (HERE), I received an e-mail about a book featuring The Flying Tigers, a squadron of American pilots who secretly fought against Japan before American entered WW2 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

While I have always been a fan of the British Supermarine Spitfire, and the Hawker Hurricane aircraft of WWII, I was first a fan of the American built Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an airplane that was and is easily recognizable by the awesome shark-faced nose art.

The aircraft was built by Curtiss... a name that may be unfamiliar to most nowadays, by back around the turn of the 20th century, founder Glenn Curtiss was perhaps one of the most brilliant manufacturers of the earliest aircraft (I call them aeroplanes) ever.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss of Hammondsport New York, Thomas Etholen Selfridge of San Francisco California, Frederick W Casey Baldwin of Toronto Ontario Canada, John Alexander Douglas McCurdy of Baddeck Nova Scotia, and fellow Canadian and inventor of the telephone (amongst other things), Dr. Alexander Graham Bell of Edinburgh Scotland - together formed a partnership backed by money from Bell’s wife Mabel aka Ma Bell - to create the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) with the goal to build and fly their own designed aeroplanes.

Together, they built the Silver Dart, recognized as Canada’s first aeroplane. You can read about that HERE in my other blog, Pioneers of Aviation. In fact, if you searched Curtiss’ name in that blog, he’d appear in nearly every single one of the article I have written about aviation in the 1919 and earlier days.

Anyhow, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is a cool aircraft of WWII, though not for the Japanese who had started fighting a global war long before their attack on the American naval base on the Kingdom of Hawaii, an American protectorate. They were in a war against China, and were already performing their Imperialist expansion against the rest of Asia.

Note that the Axis (German, Italy and Japan, was to divide up Europe, Africa and Asia respectively.

The Japanese ONLY attacked the U.S. naval forces in an effort to prevent possible American involvement in breaking up Japan's fuel and supply chains from Asia to the land of the rising sun.

Oh... and as you know, in 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. Hawaii was administered as a U.S. territory until 1959, when it became the 50th state. By saying "As you know" I am assuming your knowledge of American history is at least as good as mine, a Canadian. Then again, I follow the rules of Machiavelli in lulling the enemy asleep before they even know they've been taken over. Everyone read The Prince, and then read The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

In the man time, maybe you should get your hands on the book written by Samuel Kleiner, entitled The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan.

The book, published by The Viking Press and due out on May 15, 2018, tells the story of 300 young American men and women who were secretly recruited from across the armed services by the prospect of seeing the world and earning a good salary.

They traveled to Burma in the fall of 1941 under false identities and trained with legendary general Claire Chennault with the idea that they would be supporting Chiang Kai-shek’s China in its battle with Japan.

The Flying Tigers were effectively mercenaries secretly recruited by a mysterious shell company that the United States government had created to circumvent its official stance of non-intervention in the war.

They were sent to help keep China in the war, and were consequently in place when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The Flying Tigers began their first flights 12 days later, helping to keep the Japanese occupied as U.S. troops were built up.

Writer Kleiner takes readers into the cockpits of the Tigers’ iconic shark-nosed planes as they perform nail-biting missions against the Japanese, destroying some 297-enemy aircraft in Burma, Thailand, and China.

A dramatic story of covert operations whose very existence would have scandalized an isolationist United States, The Flying Tigers is the unforgettable account of a group of Americans whose actions changed the world, and who today are viewed as heroes not only in our own country but are revered in China as well.

As for author Kleiner, here’s what we know:
Sam Kleiner - photo by Nina Subin
Sam Kleiner is a historian and lawyer in New York City. He holds a BA from Northwestern University, a doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a JD from Yale Law School. He has always had an interest in WWII and spent several years researching the Flying Tigers. He was the only historian to attend recent meetings of the Flying Tigers Association and, working with the families of the Tigers, he uncovered troves of previously unpublished diaries, letters, and photographs that allow for a new, in-depth look at the Flying Tigers. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

President George H W Bush In WW2

Recently, former U.S. president George H.W. Bush’s wife and former first-lady, Barbara Bush, passed away. She seemed like a nice person.

Regardless of his political background, president Bush was the leader of the most powerful country in the world, and to be fair, he didn’t do a bad job of running it.

That's Bush in the center of the photo above, he is flanked by Joe Reichert (left) and Leo Nadeau (right), in this WWII image (Robert Stinnett/U.S. National Archives).  

Since he was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts, U.S.A., I realized he would have been of age to participate in WWII, and wondered if there was a Japanese connection, besides his unfortunate illness while attending a banquet and barfing into the lap of then-Japanese prime minister Miyazawa Kiichi (surname first).

Guess what? There was… and it’s a far more interesting story than watching a poor guy vomit and faint during a political dinner.

When Japan attacked the American naval base of Pearl Harbor on American protectorate Hawaii back on December 7, 1941, Bush was 17-years-old and a senior attending Phillips Academy Andover.

Like many Americans of that era, he wanted to immediately enlist, but could not because of his age.

He thought about going to Canada to sneakily enlist in the Royal Air Force so he could be a pilot, but he also realized that while he wanted to go and help fight the Japanese, it would be better if he waited and joined the U.S. Navy.

After graduating from Andover, he was sworn into the Navy. About one year later, he was an officer of the United States Naval Reserve and a naval aviator, assigned to fly torpedo bombers off aircraft carriers in the Pacific theater.

In September of 1943, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) as the photographic officer, and by early 1944, his squadron was assigned to the USS San Jacinto (CVL-30, an Independence-class light aircraft carrier. He was part of the Allied forces’ largest air battles of WWII in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19–20, 1944). 

Now a Lieutenant, junior grade, on August 1, 1944 the USS San Jacinto began attack operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands, (aka the Ogasawara Islands, 小笠原群島, Ogasawara Guntō), an archipelago of 30+ islands 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) due south of Tokyo.

Bunin means “no people”, aka uninhabited, but that’s not entirely true, as the islands of Hahajima (母島) and Chichijima (父島) are inhabited. During WWII, there were 6,886 civilians living there (both islands), as of 1944.

Chichijima, aka Father Island, was once known as Peel Island, and is the largest island in the Ogasawara archipelago, and nowadays has about 2,000 people living there.

The Japanese had set up a small naval base on Chichijima in 1914, back when they were allied against Germany et al in WWI (aka The Great War). During WWII, however, it was the primary site of long range Japanese radio stations, as well as being the central base of supply and communication between Japan and the Bonin Islands. It had an armed forces of about 3,800. 

In 1944, all Japanese civilians were told to evacuate the archipelago as Allied Forces began to push the Japanese back towards the mainland. In fact, Japanese troops and resources from Chichijima were used in reinforcing the strategic point of Iwo Jima before battle there from February 19 to March 24, 1945.

On Just a shade over the age of 20, on September 2, 1944, Bush and his team were to fly over Chichijima and try and take out a radio tower there.

Bush, along with William G. White (aka Ted) and John “Del” Delaney, took off, but were hit by anti-aircraft guns near the island. Bush’s nickname, as evidenced by his skinny frame in the photo at the top, was “Skin”, as I can only imagine they already had someone named “Bones”.

Bush told White and Delaney to get read to parachute out as cockpit filled with smoke and the wings became engulfed in flames.

This should be the stuff that legends of war are remembered for: Despite the choking smoke in the cockpit, Bush continued to steer the aircraft towards his radio tower target, dropped the bomb payload, blew up the radio tower and, as he continued to steer the plane back away from the island, told his crew to parachute out.

Bush then climbed out of the cockpit hatch to prepare for his own jump, but the force of the wind hit him hard, lifting him off his feet and throwing him back onto the aircraft’s tail, cutting his head and smashing his eye, as he sailed back away from the flaming plane as it headed toward a watery doom in the Pacific Ocean.

As his parachute expanded, he watched his plane hit and sink beneath the waves before he himself crashed into the water before resurfacing.

Tough SOB that Bush is, despite the one eye getting smacked, both eyes burning from the cockpit smoke, the gash on the head, a now water-laden flight suit, and a mouthful of salty water, and, let’s face it, in a bit of shock from the whole day’s event, he spotted a life raft, which he managed to inflate and get into it.

The bigger problem now for Bush, was that the waves were pushing the inflatable raft back towards Chichijima, so armed with nothing but his arms, he began to paddle away from the island.

A good thing too, as to have ended up on Chichijima as a POW (prisoner-of-war) would have been difficult, as there were later reported war crimes there.Which I'll get to below.

Perhaps because of the smoke inhalation, sea sickness from the stress, or simply because he had concussed himself when he was blown back against his aircraft’s tail, Bush paddled and barfed, as he looked frantically for his comrades White and Delaney… but of them, he never saw again.

After a while, weak and weary, and thinking he was hallucinating, a U.S. submarine suddenly broke the surface near him, turning the dire situation into a rescue op. It was the USS Finback (SS-230), a Gato-class submarine.

This is really a still from a video of George Bush Sr. being rescued by the submarine! Image via

You can also hear president Bush speak about the ordeal in his own words:

As for the war crimes committed by the Japanese at Chichijima - there was something called the Chichijima (or Ogasawara) Incident, when in 1944 and 1945 Japanese soldiers killed and ate several captured American airmen.

Yup… cannibalism. Bush luckily missed out on the worst Japanese meal ever. Holy crap.

Now the military records do NOT mention cannibalism in their charges against the Japanese, mostly because cannibalism wasn’t specifically mentioned in military or international law (at that time).

After nine American airmen in different planes were shot down during various raids on Chichijima, eight were captured… Bush being the lone man to avoid capture.

These eight airmen were beaten and tortured before being executed, a fact only discovered after the war.

The men had all been beheaded on the orders of Lt. Gen. Tachibana Yoshio (立花芳夫, surname first).

And parts of four of the men were cannibalized by Japanese officers—their livers—done either as part of some weird-ass ritualistic thing, or to stem off starvation... though just consuming the liver seems less about starvation, and more about a ritual—eating your enemy as a show of defiance.   

I can tell you that my downstairs neighbor in Japan who was stuck on one of these islands during the war was only too happy to surrender when Allied troops landed because they were starving. He told me that the Americans were kind and generous and took good care of him and his remaining squad—something he did not expect because his commanding officers and the government were always going on about how evil the Allied Forces were. They were brainwashed by propaganda.

After the war, 30 Japanese soldiers on the island were tried for war crimes. As mentioned, since cannibalism wasn’t apparently a crime, they were tried for murder and “prevention of honorable burial”. 

Five were found guilty: Major Matoba, General Tachibana, Admiral Mori, Captain Yoshii, and Doctor Teraki.

When I began this article, I was hoping to write a story that got away from president Bush’s unfortunate future vomiting incident in Japan, but little did I know there would be lots more vomiting as part of the story, and an ending that made me sick to my stomach.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Okay, so does this article make up for the crappy one from yesterday?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Building A Greener Japan

We hear a lot of words tossed around these days about sustainable this and sustainable that, and few people have any notion as to what it really means, except that’s it’s a catchy phrase that is meant to inform you that they are into being green. 

Back when I was a kid, the term was ecology… a catch-all phrase that mean you were into the environment in a way that showed you cared… and were trying to do something about it…

The flag above was the old ecology flag… used by environmentalists.

My best ever science fair project was my display on ecology, showing how long it took for different products to break down naturally in the environment, should the Earth last long enough for any of us to still be there to see it.

Styrofoam, was one of those biggies… and along with the Styrofoam cups, we used to get our McDonalds' Big Macs and Quarter Pounders in them—and when McDonalds finally switched over to a paperboard container, the planet breathed a little easier. 

Nowadays, we know about Earth Day… - that was this past Sunday, though I doubt any of us did anything about it.

I wish I could afford an electric car. At least here in Canada, I would feel a lot better about driving such a vehicle knowing that the electrical power comes from cleaners sources… for example, not coal, than the United States, or as we call them Central North America.

I have nothing against the folks who worked their butts off in the coal industry, and I am sorry it has created massive economic problems in those areas due to closings, but dammit, the black lung… the health concerns for the workers/miners just numbs my brain. 

While certain Central North Americans seem to have zero interest in protecting the environment, and refuse to believe in such things like the planet is suffering due to man-made intervention, I at the very least am able to think for myself and don’t feel I have to toe the party line and sacrifice my soul just to realize that the world is not in the best of shape, and failure to look after things now means future generations are going to be fugged.

An inability to realize that is just selfish.

So… what is sustainability?

Wikipedia actually offers a decent definition:

It is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes.

Japan is hardly a country that pops to mind when discussing “sustainability” and “environmental greenness.”

While much of Japan is covered in greenery… much of it… and yeah, school kids do go out once a year into towns to clean local communities… and yeah, waste separation and pick-up is ahead of many countries… there’s still a negative vibe around Japan and “green” … or maybe that’s just me, and my past prejudices from 28 years ago.

Forget I said that crap about Japan.

I have no idea how I cam across this web page, but I did: the Japan Sustainable Building Database.

It’s a website that wants to try and introduce sustainable building information that could be used for upcoming architectural projects, with advice on building techniques and policy frameworks, etc.

It’s a guide for “best Practices”, which means that future architects and builders looking to design and construct a sustainable building need not go in blind.

Now the term sustainable building is a bit of a misnomer here.

Sustainable implies diverse and productive indefinitely. 

According to the AIJ (Architectural Institute of Japan),  “A sustainable building is one which is designed: [1] to save energy and resources, recycle materials and minimize the emission of toxic substances throughout its life cycle, [2] to harmonize with the local climate, traditions, culture and the surrounding environment, and [3] to be able to sustain and improve the quality of human life while maintaining the capacity of the ecosystem at the local and global levels.”

See? Point 1 merely says to SAVE energy and resources… to MINIMIZE… that’s not exactly sustainability so much as it is REDUCING the impact of the building’s lifecycle on the environment.

Look… that’s still better than a kick in the nuts, but it’s not sustainable… and thus not sustainability… it’s merely a reduction of material use which reduces costs, and generally makes the consumer feel better about themselves… as well they should.

You can see the Japan Sustainable Building Database HERE… it’s all in English, though I believe other languages are available.

Oh wait… is this still viable if the most recent thing on there is from 2010?

Fug… I wish I had noticed that before I began writing.

Well… make of it what you will… Japan was more interested in sustainable architectural things eight years ago… so what happened?

Sighhhhh. Too bad… I love architecture, have a non-fanatical passion for the environment (I’m not getting up in anyone’s face about things)…

I guess I’ll have to come up with a much better subject tomorrow. 

Andrew Joseph
PS: I wonder if I wanted to write this because I'm wearing a green shirt today? That's a stupid reason to write something... sorry.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Japanese Actress Umeki Miyoshi

Last week, when I wrote about the Japan Sumo Association requesting a sumo event organizer ban young girls from taking part in a promotional event, I ended it with a clip from the second Bad News Bears movie.

And down the rabbit hole I went.

I then decided to do a search to see where cast members from that first The Bad News Bears movie were today, and found a 2016 article describing just such that on the movie’s 40th anniversary. You can read that HERE.

Anyhow… the article mentioned that—aside from my pre-teen crush on Tatum O’Neal (though I had a larger crush on Jodie Foster)—there were a couple of other kids who had acting experience before this, namely: Jackie Earle Haley (still love this guy’s work, such as The Human Target and Preacher - on TV, and Breaking Away - the most underrated movie ever, and other things), and a kid named Brandon Cruz.

Okay… I didn’t know who Brandon Cruz was… he played the poor Yankees pitcher in the original The Bad News Bears movie… you know the kid… 

And then I found out he was Eddie.

Eddie… as in the kid from the old Bill Bixby television show, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (before he was David Banner in The Incredible Hulk), an ABC television show I watched from September of 1969 thru March of 1972.

I never watched a rerun, but dammit, I can still sing the show's theme song to this very day! I just love the complexities of this phrase:

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend,
He’s a one boy cuddly toy — my up, my down, my pride and joy.

Ha. Brought a tear to my eye just there. Hang on… back in a moment.

Okay… Did you know that Cruz was the lead vocalist for The Dead Kennedys (my favorite punk group) from 2001-2003? I didn’t. Holy crap!!!!

Anyhow, on The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father television show (not the earlier (movie), the boy Eddie and his Father (mom had died), they had a housekeeper, a woman named Mrs. Livingstone, who was played by an actress named Umeki Miyoshi (surname first, 梅木 美代志), a Japanese woman.

Here’s a clip of the show, with special guest star Jodie Foster… who wasn’t as cute here as she would be later (in the Disney flicks, like Freaky Friday). I know she’s gay, but I still have a crush on her.

What’s interesting, is that even at this stage of the 20th century, Mrs. Livingstone is teaching Joey (Jodie Foster) the subservient Japanese woman’s way.


And, if the lesson is to be learned, Eddie finally earns Joey’s respect after he hits her.


Okay… I used to watch this show, and they weren’t all like this… I think. It has been 50 years…

By the way... when I looked for a clip of this show, I picked the first one I saw, and was pleasantly surprised to find Jodie Foster appearing in it, proving that even though I don't know what I'm going to write about, it all makes sense. 

Anyhow, the point is that while Mrs. Livingstone was Japanese on the show, her Japaneseness wasn’t always at the forefront… she was simply a valuable member of the family who helped resolve conflict the best way 1960s television could offer.
Cast of The Courtship Of Eddie's Father: Bill Bixby, Brandon Cruz and Umeki Miyoshi. 
Born on May 8, 1929, in Otaru, Hokkaido as the youngest of nine kids, she went through WWII, and began working as a nightclub singer using the name Nancy Umeki… probably because it sounded American.

Even though the US-led Allied Forces had just defeated Japan, and exploded for the first two and only two times a nuclear bomb meant to annihilate people in a war… Americans were generally held in high regard, as Japan could actually respect someone who was smart enough and strong enough to defeat it in battle.

She began recording for RCA Victor Japan from 1954-1954, doing mostly jazz, singing in both English and Japanese… something almost every modern Japanese singer does to this day, regardless of genre… but she did like American pop songs, too.

By 1955, she had crossed the Atlantic and was singing for her supper in the U.S., as a series regular on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, but continued to put out singles and albums from 1959 thru about 1961.

Because of her appearances on the Arthur Godfrey show, film director Joshua Logan decided to cast her in the 1957 movie, Sayonara… which was about an US ace fighter pilot during the Korean War (1950-1953)… now I haven’t seen the movie, but since I’m pretty sure Sayanora is “Goodbye” in Japan, and Japan is not in Korea, I would assume that the pilot, played by Marlon Brando, was stationed at an air force base in Japan.     

Strangely, our gal Umeki Miyoshi was NOT the love interest of Brando’s character―that was Taka Miiko (surname first), still critics thought Umeki was great, awarding her the Academy Award For Best Supporting Actress for her role of Katsumi Kelly (surname LAST).
Here is Umeki Miyoshi hugging fellow Oscar Award winner Red Buttons at The Academy Awards in 1958.
 Umeki Miyoshi was the very first Asian―male or female―to win an Academy Award for acting.

In fact, she is STILL the only Asian to have won an Academy Award for acting. As of 2018.

In 1958, she played Mei-Li in the Broadway musical production of Flower Drum Song, which not only ran for two years, but earned her a Tony award nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.   

December 22, 1958 cover of Time magazine, with Umeki Miyoshi on the left.
In 1961 she reprised her roll as Mei-Li for the movie adaption, and also appeared in these movies:  Cry for Happy (1961), The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962) and A Girl Named Tamiko (1963).

Then, from 1969-1972, she appeared in the television adaption of the movie, The Courtship of Eddie's Father as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper, for which she was again nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

But, when the show ended in 1972, Miyoshi-san retired from acting.

She had been married to television director Frederick Winfield "Wynn" Opie in 1958 until their divorce in 1967, and had one son, Michael H. Opie, born in 1964.

Following her divorce, she married Randall Hood in 1968, who adopted her son, who then became Michael Randall Hood.

She and Hood ran a Los Angeles, California-based company renting editing equipment to film studios and university film programs, until her husband’s death in 1976.

While Miyoshi lived in California for most of her post-retirement years, she did move to a place called Licking, Missouri to be near her son and his family.

I had to know, and found out that Licking, Missouri—with a 2010 census of 3,124 people—was named in pre-1880 as Buffalo Lick, before just Licking… and refers to a mineral lick near the town’s original site.

And if you don’t know what a mineral lick is, it’s a “salt lick”, where animals go and lick the ground to take in needed elements such as phosphorus, sodium, calcium iron, zine, etc.—something critters do often in the Spring to enhance growth of bone and muscle.    

As for Miyoshi Umeki… she lived in Licking, Missouri until her death at the age of 78 on August 28, 2007 from cancer complications.

In her honor, here’s Miyoshi Umeki singing Sayonora (1954):

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Martian Moons May Have Been Formed By Large Impact On Mars

Today, since it’s Earth Day (April 22, 2018) let’s talk science… in particular astronomy… one of those topics I not only enjoy reading about but actually excelled in back in university… even though I have never peered through a telescope of any magnitude.

According to the April 18, 2018 issue of Science Advances, in the article entitled the “Origin of Phobos and Deimos by the impact of a Vesta-to-Ceres-sized body with Mars”… oh wait… I kind of just gave away the whole thing right there.

Before we get lost in space, for those who are interested, go to the bottom of this article and click on the link to the music video by M|A|R|R|S - Pump Up The Volume, a 1987 video with some cool music - helping birth  British acid house music - and some old-school video footage of early manned space flight.

Anyhow, according to the article, scientists from the Southwest Research Institute theorize that the small, misshapen moons of Mars—Phobos and Deimos—were formed after a single impact of the young proto-Mars and a dwarf-planet-sized object similar in size to the largest asteroids Vesta and Ceres.

Now, an object smashing into a planet to create a moon is not new news—Earth and Luna (our moon) was formed in a similar fashion, though the Earth impact is suspected to have been much, much larger than the Martian one.

Luna may have formed when a Mars-sized object crashed into the nascent Earth 4.5 billion years ago, and the resulting debris coalesced into the Earth-Moon system.

Scientists have been discussing the origins of Mars' two moon for a while, wondering if they were simply asteroids captured by the planet's gravity or if they were formed from the common form of an equatorial disk of debris.

While others had thought of an impact as the cause, test models were limited by low numerical resolution and overly simplified modeling techniques.

“Ours is the first self-consistent model to identify the type of impact needed to lead to the formation of Mars’ two small moons,” says lead author Dr. Robin Canup, an associate vice-president in the Southwest Research Institute Space Science and Engineering Division. Canup is one of the leading scientists using large-scale hydrodynamical simulations to model planet-scale collisions, including the prevailing Earth-Moon formation model.

“A key result of the new work is the size of the impactor; we find that a large impactor — similar in size to the largest asteroids Vesta and Ceres — is needed, rather than a giant impactor,” Canup explains. “The model also predicts that the two moons are derived primarily from material originating in Mars, so their bulk compositions should be similar to that of Mars for most elements. However, heating of the ejecta and the low escape velocity from Mars suggests that water vapor would have been lost, implying that the moons will be dry if they formed by impact.”

The new Mars model invokes a much smaller impactor than considered previously. Earth’s diameter is about 8,000 miles, while Mars’ diameter is just over 4,200 miles. The Moon is just over 2,100 miles in diameter, about one-fourth the size of Earth.

While they formed in the same timeframe, Deimos and Phobos are very small, with diameters of only 7.5 miles and 14 miles respectively, and orbit very close to Mars.

The proposed Phobos-Deimos forming impactor would be between the size of the asteroid Vesta, which has a diameter of 326 miles, and the dwarf planet Ceres, which is 587 miles wide.

“We used state-of-the-art models to show that a Vesta-to-Ceres-sized impactor can produce a disk consistent with the formation of Mars’ small moons,” says the paper’s second author, Dr. Julien Salmon, an Southwest Research Instituteresearch scientist. “The outer portions of the disk accumulate into Phobos and Deimos, while the inner portions of the disk accumulate into larger moons that eventually spiral inward and are assimilated into Mars. Larger impacts advocated in prior works produce massive disks and more massive inner moons that prevent the survival of tiny moons like Phobos and Deimos.”

That's cool... but what the heck does any of this have to do with Japan?

Well, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has an upcoming Mars Moons eXploration (MMX) mission where it will try and determine the origin of the two moons of Mars.

The MMX mission is scheduled to launch in 2024, and will visit both moons with a planned landing on the surface of Phobos to take a surface sample before it returns to Earth in 2029.

“A primary objective of the MMX mission is to determine the origin of Mars’ moons, and having a model that predicts what the moons compositions would be if they formed by impact provides a key constraint for achieving that goal,” Canup acknowledges.

The mission will also take aboard a special NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) tool... of which I know little about, suffice to say that the JAXA mission is one that NASA is interested in.

As for the research done in the “Origin of Phobos and Deimos by the impact of a Vesta-to-Ceres-sized body with Mars,” it was funded by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) in Silicon Valley, and by NASA’s Emerging Worlds program. The research was conducted as part of the Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets (ISET), a SSERVI team from SwRI’s office in Boulder, Colorado.

Andrew Joseph
PS: For your listening pleasure:

PPS: The image at the top of this article is from, and as it correctly states it is not to scale, but it does show how misshapen the two moons of Mars are.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Kyushu Volcano Erupts After 250-Year Siesta

Mount Iō (pronounced ee-oh), aka Mount Iwo, a volcano located in southern Japan, has erupted for the first time in 250 years.

It’s not an amazing feat - regardless of global media reporting it as though 250 years is a long time between eruptions.

Really, it’s not.

An active volcano, as defined by volcanologists, is a volcano that has had at least one eruption during the past 10,000 years. An active volcano might be erupting or dormant.

But you read that, right? 10,000 years between eruptions, and it is still considered to be “active”. In the life of a mountain or volcano, 250 years is nothing.

You can click HERE to have a look at a list I compiled of every single active volcano in Japan - all 118 of them.

And yeah… I put the list in alphabetical order and separated them by region.

And yeah… I some how missed this bloody volcano!!! Actually, I didn’t.

I can stop panicking.

It’s located under the nine listings of Kyushu volcanoes under the Kirishima listing.

Kirishima, in case you don’t want to look, consists of 18 small stratovolcanoes, which includes Mount Io (aka Mount Iwo).

While the Kirishima complex HAS erupted as recently as 2011, the Mount Io part of it hasn’t erupted since 1768.

Now, while I may have poo-poohed the severity of the Mount Io volcanic eruption, I shouldn’t have. People’s lives are at stake.

Warnings have been issued for towns near the 1,317-meter (4320.9 feet) high volcano, with the possibility of large rocks being spewed into the air by the eruption, but so far, only a large deposit of ash has been sent up into the air.

Like a dry fart.

And on that note - toot,
Andrew Joseph